Ken Laeremans from Flanda Collective was one of the participants for the Startup Pitch Competition in the first-ever IE Entrepreneurship Summit. The summit took place from the 15th to the 16th of November in the Aula Magna of IE University. It was powered by IE Student Leadership Team and co-hosted with the IE Big Data, Search Funds, and Startup Clubs. Each of them contributed to different speakers related to entrepreneurship.
We had the opportunity to sit with one of Flanda Collective’s team members to asks him a few questions.
Why did you decide to participate in the IE Entrepreneurship Summit?
Flanda is currently looking for an investment and we take every opportunity to network and present our ideas to receive feedback.
Is there any specific type of investor you are trying to reach?
We’ve seen in recent months after having looked at investors that angel investors who have a passion for music or know about it and like our team. This is the profile we are looking for. We’ve tried with venture capital but they are more into tech startups and rapidly scalable things. In our case, we are more of a slow process and the scaling takes more time.
What would you use the investment for?
Primarily for two or three events. For the creation of those and increase the number of attendees. We’ve seen that this industry is characterized by economies of scale and this means we need many people. If we get that we can scale up and get a name around Europe.
( Last party Octane, 1,000 attendees. You can read about it here.)
Let’s talk about logistics… when you organize a party you normally have to give a deposit first. How do you manage to do that? Where do you get the money from?
This is exactly our problem with our business and why we are looking for investment. Its to do with negotiating to decrease or delay the amount of time in which we need to pay the deposits.
The money is based on the previous profits, sales and worst-case scenario our own money to secure it. We prefer to make it on sales and good negotiation.
We found out that using the same suppliers and building a trust relationship is key. In the beginning, it was incredibly tough but over time they see that we are able to pay back and are more flexible with us.
What is Flanda’s value proposition?
We are based in three pillars; inclusion, unique locations, and forth thinking electronic music.
Is the talk about having annual events instead of more regular parties true?
The idea is to start with one big annual one but to really create a community around electronic music through various methods (discussed in the pitch) you will have to wait and see.
To have a solid customer base that believes in us and trusts our musical taste. And thereby eliminating the stigma of drug use in musical festivals.
What was your biggest challenge when creating Flanda?
The learning process. You are constantly dealing with suppliers and you have no bargaining power as well as consumers that are very hesitant. These particular things and trying to convince people to come and try something new is not easy.
Once you think you got it nailed there is always a problem you didn’t anticipate or think about and it just does. It is a big learning curve that takes a lot of time.
What was the mix that helped overcome this challenge?
The team and the honesty between us. Just being very objective and saying “We messed this up or Ken, Cristiano you messed this up…” being honest and owning up to our mistakes and moving forward to learn about them.
About the team…
Are you all Italian?
Everyone is Italian except me … I’m the odd one out. I’m originally from Belgium but I’ve lived my whole life outside of Belgium.
I understand Italian and I’m slowly starting to talk it.
Were you all friends before or was it after Flanda?
Yes, it was created because we were friends. It’s a key part of our team mark.
Do you recommend working with friends?
Yes but it’s difficult. The great thing is honesty but its also the bad thing. You have no fear to say what you think and sometimes it can lead to conflict.
I definitely recommend it especially at the university level as we don’t have much experience and working with friends allows you to be passionate about a project.
Do you all study the same thing?
Do you have other people that advise you?
We’ve taken advice from a lot of friends and people. All our productions that you see on Instagram are done externally by people we meet on Instagram that are very low key.
The idea is that we don’t pay a lot for their services because we spend a lot of time looking for these people and give them an opportunity to get noticed.
Legally thanks to IE we have a good network and we’ve meet lawyers that have helped us for free.
Do you intend to follow this after graduation?
Yes, we have a plan in place. If we have invested and found it we will continue after graduation and see how far we can take it.
How has IE helped you?
IE sponsored Octane for a big part. I think they felt it as a good opportunity for freshers to come together and get to know each other. Flanda was one of the biggest events of the welcome week so they probably felt we needed a helping hand.
They also give us opportunities to present our ideas as events such as this one [ IE Entrepreneurship Summit ] and of course the network that they have.
If you had to give advice for someone starting a start-up what would you say?
Don’t be scared. Just go for it and do it with friends. It gives you a sense of security because you are in it together… do something you are passionate about. You are at university, you are young… so just go for it and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out. No one is going to judge for that and you’ll know what to do better for next time.